The flu season is rapidly approaching Here is a quick quiz to check your flu-vaccine knowledge.
True or false: The flu shot can give you the flu. False, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The flu vaccine contains killed viruses, which means the flu shot cannot cause infection. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that “The only differences in symptoms was increased soreness in the arm and redness at the injection site among people who got the flu shot. There were no differences in terms of body aches, fever, cough, runny nose or sore throat.”
For some people who notice symptoms immediately after the flu shot, it can be from the immune system making antibodies to the killed viruses in the vaccine that help fight off the flu.
True or false: The nasal flu vaccine can give you the flu. False. Unlike the flu shot, which contains killed viruses, the nasal spray vaccine does contain live viruses. However, the viruses contained in the nasal-spray flu vaccine are attenuated (weakened), which means they cannot cause flu illness. These weakened viruses are designed to cause mild infection at the cooler temperatures found within the nose, but they cannot infect the lungs or other warmer areas of the body.
True or false: The flu shot doesn’t work half of the time. False. The flu shot actually works more than half of the time. According to the CDC, the flu shot appeared to be about 60 percent effective for all age groups combined in the 2010-11 season. In earlier years the effectiveness rates have been as high as 90 percent.
True or false: Getting the flu is no big deal. False. The flu can cause significant death and illness. Over the last 30 years, the flu has been linked to anywhere from 3,000 to as many as 49,000 fatalities a year in the United States, with more than 200,000 hospitalizations a year. Flu is a serious disease, particularly among young children, older adults and people with certain chronic health conditions such as asthma, heart disease and diabetes.
True or false: You should get the flu shot in the winter, not the fall. False. You should get the flu shot earlier in the year, and most clinics start offering the flu shot in October. That’s because once you get the vaccine, the protection lasts an entire flu season. The CDC recommends that all people older than 6 months get a flu vaccine.
True or false: You don’t need a flu shot this year if you had one last year. False. The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for people 6 months and older. The reason is that a person’s immune protection from vaccination declines over time, so a yearly vaccination is needed.
If you had all seven questions correct, congratulations. You have likely already lined up your flu shot.
For the rest of you: Time for a flu shot.
Drs. Kay Judge and Maxine Barish-Wreden are medical directors of the Sutter Downtown Integrative Medicine program. Email email@example.com.